I know, it’s overdue. Long overdue. This blog seems to have disintegrated into one of those that has an irregular stream of posts saying, “Sorry I haven’t posted more, but I will soon, I promise.” But I don’t believe in those posts – and maybe I don’t really believe in apologies for not blogging. Sorry to disappoint you. ;^)
The fact of the matter is that some days I wonder if this blog has simply run its course, if I’ve just moved on to other things. I ran the daily Penguinista! News from 1999 through 2003, posting an average of three items per day before I simply became too busy with the business I was building at the time. It was wearying to keep up the pace on all fronts, and something had to go. I still have that site and keep it live in the (probably) vain hope that I’ll get it going again, maybe as a community site that has multiple contributors – something I had always hoped for it. I’ve run this blog from late 2004 until last year with daily posts, the frequency of which has noticeably fallen off over the past year (master of understatement at times, me). In the past year or two I’ve been posting at Coup d’Oeil, my non-pseudonymous blog which focuses mainly on business, marketing, and the Internet. The posting regimen there has been intentionally less stringent, not only so I don’t burn out, but because I hoped I’d have the time, energy, and inspiration to post here as well. Alas, the best-laid plans of mice and men…
So has this blog run its course? I don’t think so, at least not entirely. Perhaps it was largely for the purpose of documenting a season of detox, reinvention, and rediscovery. But how do you declare an end to such a season? You certainly can’t say you’ve discovered it all, that you’ve gotten the final perspective on theology of every subset fully figured out. That would indeed be folly, and is possibly by definition the demarcation point for the beginning of a season of rediscovery. At least poetically speaking. Each time I think I should just acknowledge that the major themes of this season have come to an end and it’s now gone into ‘maintenance mode’, something will occur to me that I really want to explore on this blog – like the way in which concern over widespread financial mismanagement behind theological guise in the church is a precursor to sweeping reformative change. (Think about that for a minute.) Or the danger that reimagined responses to sin can lead to lax moral requirements among emergent leaders. Or a hundred other things, including responses to other people’s musings, writings, and efforts within this little emerging-missional stream of things.
Of course, for that last one, I’d need to be reading more of what other people are saying. The corollary to not blogging much in this vein is not reading many blogs in this vein. Oh, I follow a few select ones more closely – people I know, my cronies, or those who I particularly enjoy reading. But I’ve not had a lot of time for reading emerging-missional blogs… or I’ve not given it a lot of time. I think many in this corner of the conversation are noticing that it’s slowed down. Part of that will be seasonal, but I think a larger part is simply the way the conversation has evolved over time. It’s matured, the thinking behind much of the practice has matured, and some of the topics have moved into other areas – as has the conversation. I have hopes that people who aren’t talking are busy doing, and though I think many are, I’m not naieve enough to chalk it all up to that. Sometimes when the wind of the Spirit is changing, we’re all busy watching the signs and making busy with everything required to tack successfully and bring the boat about so we can catch the wind of the Spirit again, having reorientated ourselves in a manner that brings us closer to our end destination, even if we’re not on a direct route. (Stop and think about that metaphor for a minute or two if you like.)
Now recently, I’ve read Brian McLaren’s latest, A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith. Of course you know that this book has been quite controversial even within the emergent conversation. A number of folks feel that Brian has clearly gone off the reservation with this one, while others (mainly) in the the Emergent fold continue to be fully supportive of the positions Brian takes in each new book, including this one. For my part, I think the criticism is (a) overblown, and (b) not unfounded. In other words, I see what the fuss is about, but then again, I don’t. At the risk of being even less clear, I might say that certain of Brian’s theological points should cause signficant concern (and thereby yield appropriate discussion). At the same time, I don’t think he should be villified quite as much as he sometimes is. We can be upset at his denial of hell as eternal conscious torment, or as anything at all… but if that’s the case, once we have committed to reimagining our theology, we owe this doctrine a visit as well. As much as we may not like it, we’re duty-bound to discuss it and outline what our new understanding is becoming, whether it’s most like Brian’s or John Stott’s or Scofield’s or Tim LaHaye’s, or something else. And now that the guy to raise the subject has taken all the heat, the rest of us need to pick up the conversation and chase it down to some sort of resolution. Maybe it’s a better time to do this now… back when John Stott became an annihilationist, people in the evangelical world just tsk-tsk’d and said he’d gone liberal. Hopefully the time is ripe for a better discussion than that, and that we’ve learned enough not to do the same with Brian. Even if one believes he has gone liberal or gone off the reservation, or whatever… there’s no reason that dialogue can’t ensue. I do plan to write some further blog entries looking at this book in more detail. Yes, my first response was rather more snarky, but I’ve received and read my review copy now, so it’s time to talk about it. Either I’ll stir up the controversy again or I’ll help start some careful discussion of the topics. Hey, one can always hope.
Speaking of the man formerly known as the Godfather of the Emergent Movement, he is evidently in hospital right now, though I don’t have any details.
I also missed out blogging about Frank Viola and Len Sweet’s new book, Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ. Now there’s another conversation I’ve wanted to delve into more deeply – I’ve got a prerelease copy of the book that needs my attention, and like Andrew said, if it’s establishing the centrality of Christ, it’s gotta get a raised thumb (at least on some level). I’m sure it’ll be less controversial for Frank than anything with the word “Pagan” or “Reimagined” in the title. ;^)
The other thing I really dropped the ball on was the series we were doing around the MissionShift Conference (for some reason the link is dead right now, account suspended). We were hitting a lot of topics that need discussion in order to come up with any form of missional manifesto. Ed Stetzer was leading that charge, and I was to be summing up the contributions, but once I fell behind and got busy with other things, it seems it was game-over for me on that one. (Sorry, Ed!) I will still want to look at the statement they write and make some kind of response to it.
Then too, I think about some of my favorite posts here that I’d like to revisit, and I keep hearing things from or about churches who do things that make the baby Jesus cry. The last few bits I heard from my CLB makes me want to start naming names and calling them out… they make me angry at what they do to the innocent members through their abusive structures and attitudes with their “damn the torpedos” approach as they continue making “church life” into an oxymoron. Boy, do I want to blog about that some days, and I’m not sure if my restraint is better for me or better for them. Or maybe it just is, but I’m starting to think somebody needs to start calling this crap out for the antichristian way that it is.
I should also fill the silence with some bit of personal update as well, since there’s been a lot of “busy” going on to keep me occupied. Our little house fellowship is awash with comings-and-goings, most of which are “goings” as three of the couples in an already-small group are moving out of province: one for a year and two permanently. Of the latter, one of those couples moved away last summer “just for a year” with the plan to return this summer. We all knew they wouldn’t be back except to pick up the rest of their furniture from storage, it just took them a while to figure that out. It all makes me want to move away someplace else as well. More mayhem has been inflicted on the kids’ gatherings than on the adults, so we’ll be needing to reimagine that again. As it is, we had quite a challenge to get together for the last two or three meetings to finish up the biblical timeline and scroll we’ve been working on since September. I had to abbreviate somewhat near the end, but we got it done. We have yet to find a space large enough to roll out the entire scroll to have a look at, so we’ve had to enjoy it in 25-foot sections at most.
Meanwhile as the summer sets in, we’re busy planning a trip to Vancouver this August (Hello Vancouverites, let me know you’re out there and maybe we’ll get together for hot or cold beverages!). I’ve rigged up a solar heater (redneck-style) for the above-ground pool we got for the kids last summer, and that’s working out nicely. I built a deck around one side of the pool and have begun fixing the fence, but there’s more to do, as well as finish off one more room in the basement so the kids will have a study area come fall. I need to do some more landscaping, and… some variety of other things from a list that just never seems to end. A lot of this needs to be completed by one deadline or another. We’re hoping to get away for a bit in July as well, and hoping that before then I will be properly diagnosed with whatever sleep disorder (apnea) I’ve got that leaves me unrested, needing to nap, and generally not as sharp as I should be. (Resolution there will be a relief to us all.)
Upon our return from Vancouver at the end of August, we’ll be homeschooling our kids for grades 4 and 7. To begin with, it was largely a financial decision, but it turned out that was only the catalyst for the conversation, and we’re looking forward to an interesting and flexible year of family time. It’s not a permanent change, as the kids will be going back into the school system (in their case, back to the private Christian school they’ve been in), but for now there’s a lot of excitement and planning going on for the year ahead, and the vague hope that we’ll be able to creatively make use of some newfound flexibility in all of our lives.
Professionally, I’ve been putting a good deal of effort into WebRiggers, a website development firm that I’ve been starting to build, mainly doing websites for small businesses based on WordPress, which helps me deliver more functionality and flexibility for less money. (I’m not a price-leader, I’m a value-leader.) This has been going well, but of course it takes a lot of time and energy to get something going, and I’m always on the lookout for new clients or strategic partnerships.
And in the midst of all of this, I still wonder if this blog has run its course. Somehow, I don’t think it has, not entirely. Regardless, I don’t plan to yank it all down at any time… what I have written, I have written, and I’ll leave it here. Google seems to think there are around 80,000 links to the site, and I don’t want to break the Internet that badly by killing them all. At the same time, I do hope to add further content from time to time, but it will clearly be on a decidedly sporadic basis as life continues to intervene.
Brazil is out of the World Cup, so there’s some real disappointment to deal with as I try to realign my brain to the idea of not eating carbs, which I must say is actually my favorite food group. But summer is here and my wife and I had an omelet and coffee on the patio this morning. Must make sure I leave time to enjoy the weather.